Virgin Galactic Holdings anticipates operating three commercial flights per month for paying customers in 2023, indicating that it is on schedule to increase the number of flights after this year’s delays caused the company to miss its target date for the launch of space tourism.
After finishing upgrades to its carrier aircraft and launching a second spaceship, the company intends to provide up to three flights per month. The plans for its international growth include this. The business revealed plans to build a suborbital spaceplanes fleet in a new facility in a Phoenix suburb on July 14.
The business announced that construction on the production plant in Mesa, Arizona, where it will carry out the new Delta-class spaceplanes’ final assembly, has begun. By the end of 2023, the facility should be fully functional. According to the company’s forecasts, the first of these spacecrafts will begin transporting private astronauts in 2026.
Few details, such as the size of the new factory, were provided by Virgin Galactic, but the company did confirm that it was under construction. Completion spaceplanes can be flown to Spaceport America facility in New Mexico thanks to its proximity to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. The factory will aid “hundreds” of jobs, according to the company, and be able to build up to six spaceplanes annually.
According to Michael Colglazier, chief executive officer (CEO) of Virgin Galactic, “Our spaceship final assembly factory is vital to accelerate the manufacture of our Delta fleet, enabling a quick rise in flight capacity that will fuel our revenue growth. We’re excited to develop into the broader Phoenix region, which is home to top aerospace expertise, and we look forward to expanding our fleet and team at our new location.”
The suborbital spacecraft next generation, known as the Delta-class spaceplanes, will, according to the manufacturer, be able to launch more frequently than the SpaceShipTwo vehicles currently in use. In contrast to the current SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic anticipates that Delta class vehicles will be able to fly once per week. Virgin Galactic is constructing the VSS Imagine spacecraft at its facility in Mojave, California, with a monthly flight schedule of two.
The reason Virgin Galactic chose Mesa, Arizona, for the production plant was not explicitly stated, but the company had previously stated that it was looking at a number of options. In a November 2021 earnings conference, Colglazier discussed the ambitions for the Delta-class facility and stated that “we’ve been in contact with many communities about sites and have gotten interested from at least 3 states. Given our projection of over 1,000 new jobs, we anticipate an increase in interest. We are anticipating the additional opportunities and connections with the community that our expanding footprint will provide.”